”Is this something to fight for?”

Rain again. We decided to not go to the food distribution, and instead spend the time at the dentist box. However, we still got stuck at the line. Not too many people, but still quite messy. I met E’s sisters in the line. The little one walked past carrying the food that she had just received. “For this? Is this something to fight for?” she asked rhetorically with her adorable smile. “What?” I said. She nodded at the messy line, where minor quarrels were going on, especially in the front. “This is what they are fighting for”. E clarified; she meant that the items which they are receiving (bread, tomato, egg, orange) is really nothing worth fighting for. “Even she understands,” E said, referring to her 8 years old sister. ”We are all crazy”

Finally, we were off to the dentists. One of the young boys joined me along the way. “I helped them but I didn’t get any food!” he said with a grumpy face. I explained to him, that he has to come early and talk to one of the volunteers who coordinate the distribution. He speaks very good Turkish. “We lived in Turkey for five years,” he explained. “Did you go to school?” I asked. “No,” he said, “my younger brothers went, but I worked. Sewing jackets, those kind of things”. I looked at him, “How old are you now?” I asked. He is 13 years old. He was eight when he first came to Turkey.

We didn’t stay for too long at the dentist’s; twoIMG_8830.JPG hours maybe. We quickly dropped by A’s tent, but he wasn’t there. We spent a while talking to his friends instead. One of them, the one who spoke the best English, had his family in Germany. He wanted to go by
smugglers. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea,” I said. He explained that he didn’t have much choice. “It’s okay for the others,” he continued, gesticulating towards the other young men in the group, “They don’t have family. But my family is there, I have to go”.

We were walking back towards the car when a young girl ran up to us. “Can you get us plates and spoons?” she asked. “Okay,” I said. I had never seen her before, but oh well. I headed towards Lidl to buy some things. Easter is coming up, and pretty much all stores will be closed for a looong time – pretty much until I leave. Then, I dropped by one of the Chinese shops in Polikastro; sometimes they give better prices. Two other volunteers were there, trying to buy underwear. The shopkeepers only speak Chinese and Greek, not English, so I helped out with some translation. That’s my other voluntary task here.

”Your shoes are wet,” the shopkeeper told me when I was about to leave. Well yeah… ”Grab a new pair!” she suggested, gesturing towards their shoes-section. ”It’s fine,” I told her, but she insisted – ”You’ll get sick!” I told her that I would change when I came home; I have another pair… Of sandals. ”You’re taking a pair now from here, it’s a gift,” she said resolutely, ”you choose one”. Ehh, that’s awkward. In the end, she handed me a pair. ”You’re socks are wet too,” she noticed, and grabbed me a new pair of socks.

Just some of the stuff that was bought: IMG_8769.JPG

34 x flipflop; 50 x soap; 24 x body cream; 18 x sunscreen; 96 x tooth
paste; 63 x shampoo; 12 x razors; 21 x washing detergent; 10 x shorts; 16 x bras; 12 x caps; 15 x spoons, etc…

I was also looking for some nitrile gloves, but they didn’t have it here. Instead, they referred me to another Chinese shop up the road. I drove off, well, it’s kind of nice for me to practice Chinese as well in between the Turkish and Farsi and Arabic. The shop keeper in the second shop was extremely sweet, offering to go together with me to look for the gloves as they didn’t have any in at the moment. We eventually didn’t find any gloves, but we had some nice conversations. ”You’re so young!” she told me. Well, about that… They asked what I was doing and where I was staying, and where quite startled to find out that I was roaming around alone, sleeping in a warehouse. ”Come stay with us!” she suggested, ”We sleep here in the store. We have a room in the basement, I stay there all summer when it’s too hot upstairs”. I thanked them for the offer, and explained that it was fine in the warehouse – actually quite convenient.

They themselves, have opened the shop for refugees to come and charge their phones, drink some water, and find products at more friendly prices. ”During the holidays, I will go to Idomeni and cut the hair of the kids,” the woman told me. ”We also try to help the volunteers here, to find the goods that they need, and giving as low prices as we can. We’re not making money of volunteers and refugees. This is our way of humanitarian work. We wish that we could do the things that you do, volunteer out there, but we cannot leave the shop. So this is our contribution.”

Sometimes humans are kind of alright.

J

 

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